Monthly Archives: September 2010

the way the buildings on my block are built, each almost shares a side with the other, as though their staying up depended the one on the others.  this creates all kinds of interesting scenarios, which i won’t get into right now, with the exception of this:  because of the close range of all the buildings, and of the awkwardness of this kind of layout in general, from my kitchen window i have a perfect view into a courtyard of sorts (though as it is boxed in, the multiple fire escapes leading into it seem like a cruel joke), that is shared with half the tenants in my building, and half of those from the one adjacent. so it is unclear to me whether sounds coming in this window are from my building, or whether they belong to the kids across the way. which kind of pains me, because of the whistler.

the whistler is basically just a guy who whistles.  when i’m up early on weekends (which is saying a lot when you live in a university-proximity neighbourhood quite literally called ‘the ghetto’), i can hear the whistler from what i can only assume is his kitchen, usually playing something like the white album or some old french jazz, happily whistling along at random.  in the evenings (and again, this could only happen on a quiet night, as more often than not all sounds get drowned out by the ecstatic screaming of youth, bless them), i can hear the whistler even from my bathroom window, clanging pots and pans along to seventies rock.  anyone would have to admit, the guy has skills.

there is something infinitely comforting about the sound of whistling, and maybe i only say this because spending so much time on my own lately makes me over-think these things. in a funny way the whistler is almost like the birds that used to nest along the roof near my bedroom window in vancouver, chirping early in the day and again later, as i would get ready for bed.  sometimes i also find myself whistling, albeit badly, and usually to equally terrible pop songs, and part of me really hopes the sound doesn’t carry over to where the guy with the perfect whistle-pitch can hear it.  in any event, unless i happen to run into him mid-note on the street or in my building, i’ll probably never know who he is, or give him a well-deserved high-five for the awesome musical accompaniments that go on from the courtyard-side windows.  so whistler-guy, thanks!

(if you didn’t already notice, i kind of love whistling, and also this band)


there is something to be said for lentils.

the first time i recall being served lentil soup was during what i can now look back on fondly as my uncle al’s ‘bulk food in ice cream buckets’ phase.  this quite literally refers to the sheer proportion of dried legumes al was into at the time, as these were something like twelve litre buckets. in retrospect, the soup was probably delicious- green or brown lentils in a vegetable broth, spiced with the warm flavour of curry. at the time, however, my sister and i couldn’t wrap our heads around the appeal of a meal that looked like regurgitated mud, let alone give our uncle the satisfaction of watching us enjoy his soup.  for years, the slightest suggestion of serving a version of al’s soup for dinner -dad loved it so much he went on a lentil kick of his own shortly after his brother- triggered the same kind of panic that brussel’s sprouts once did (though bacon eventually cured that problem).

but i’ve come around. waking up this afternoon nursing a hangover from last night’s festivities, all i could think of was filling up on something warm and comforting.  this soup hit the spot.

(adapted from a recipe from

serves three

1.5 cups dried red lentils
4 cups water
2 tablespoons tomato paste
60mL coconut milk
half a small onion
2 tablespoons chopped ginger
one tablespoon curry powder
olive oil for pan
salt to taste

1. put lentils and water to boil, turn down and simmer for half an hour.
2. dice onion, fry with ginger in olive oil. add curry powder.
3. once lentils are cooked through, stir in coconut milk, tomato paste.  add onion and ginger mixture.
4. add more coconut milk or water until you reach the desired consistency, salt to taste. i threw on crushed chilies as well.

serve over rice.

however delicious this soup may be, it is definitely not a looker.  be forewarned!

sundays in the warm season, people head to the tam-tam, gathering near the angel statue at the foot of mont royal to participate in drum circles and basically lie around in the grass for hours on end.  mellow afternoon eating chocolate coconut in the sun.